is one front and one battle, where everyone in the United
States - every man, woman, and child - is in action. That
front is right here at home, in our daily lives."
-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
In address to the Nation, April 1942
The Importance of letter writing in
World War II
"We got our first mail in a month two days ago, and
it was fine!"
-Captain Austin K. Doyle, January 25, 1945
Imagine a world with no Internet, no email,
no television, no communications satellites and limited telephone
access. This was the reality of life during World War II.
The naval aviator on board the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise
could not email his family to let them know he was alive and
well after the Battle of Midway. A worried mother whose son
might be fighting in the jungles of New Guinea or Guadalcanal
could expect no phone call letting her know her child was
safe. Those fighting the war longed for news from home and
those at home anxiously awaited news that their loved ones
were safe and sound. For most, letter writing became a ritual
that formed a much-needed link between home and the war. We
today are very fortunate that letter writing was such a vital
part of wartime life at home and abroad, because many of these
letters have survived the ravages of time and stand as a written
reminder of a past that is quickly fading.
Read the actual wartime letters that have been provided for
this exercise and pay close attention to details. As you read,
try to put yourself in the author's place. Remember that the
situation Americans faced during World War II certainly was
unique, but letters from home front to the fighting front
were not anything new, nor was facing the possibility of losing
a loved one in battle. Take into consideration the fear of
the unknown, which was perhaps the most difficult issue for
those at home to confront. Think about the servicemen separated
from loved ones for months, not knowing when or if they will
ever see them again.
Assignment: You are on the "Home Front" in World
After reading the provided letters, write at least a two-page
letter of your own to a "loved one" in the armed
service. It can be a father, brother, boyfriend, friend or
neighbor. Be sure to consider that letters during this time
take weeks, sometimes months to be delivered, so include lots
of information. Add in news of current events in your hometown
as well as details of scrap drives, bond sales and rationing.
Also include what you are doing to help out in the war effort.
It is okay to include emotion and personal information. Remember
you have not seen this person in a long time and do not know
when or if you will see them again. Realize that what may
seem ordinary or boring to you may not be to those fighting
overseas, for whom any news from home provided an escape from
the horrors of war. Use what you have learned from reading
the letters of the previous exercise to help you write your
letter and incorporate this type of information into your
each line below for information about the author and to read
that the Ole U.S. is beginning to really feel there's a war
Jimps . . . "
All My Love, Daddy"